Archive for June, 2009

Why The Baby Industry Hates Us Friday

June 26, 2009

cufflinkspremier_2055_185038704Item: Sonogram Cufflinks
Price: $65

A while back, a co-worker interested in all things baby asked me to send him my sonogram picture. (I should say he’s a delightful chap I know well with his own daughter and grandchildren. It wasn’t some random weirdo from the loading dock or anything.) I was happy to oblige because this particular baby is so gosh darn adorable but as I clicked “Send” it occurred to me, “I’m sending him a picture of my uterus. Is that odd?”

The makers of Sonogram Cufflinks want to go one better: they want my husband to parade around the office, nice restaurants, press conferences, what have you, brandishing a tiny photo of my uterus on his sleeves. As a Boing Boing commenter aptly states: “Hey Bruce, what’s that on your cuffs?” “Oh that? That’s a sonogram image of my unborn progeny as he sits nestled comfortably within my wife’s birth canal. Want to see Polaroids of the conception?” Or as blogger Lemmonex put it when calling these tiny terrors to my attention, “So not OK.”

My favorite part of the ad copy states, “Send us your own sonogram photos.” Er, do they get a lot of people requesting cufflinks featuring other people’s sonogram photos? “Hey Bruce, what’s that on your cuffs?” “Oh that? That’s a sonogram image of your unborn progeny as he sits nestled comfortably within your wife’s birth canal. Want to see Polaroids of the conception?”


“I’m rollin’ on 12s!”

June 24, 2009


Check out the bebe’s sweet ride! It arrived yesterday and I have to say that short of the baby herself, it might be the acquisition I’m most excited about with this whole new people-making process. Look at that thing! Let’s peek under the hood, shall we?
* 360-degree turning radius
* Fully reclining-seat with rain cover
* Flip-up foot rest
* Multiple storage areas
* Folds flat with one simple pull
* Window cutouts for peeking in on her
* Magnetized flip-up air vents
* Racing stripe (which any scientist will confirm makes it go faster.)

Not since the purchase of my convertible upon moving to South Florida have I been so jazzed about a mode of transportation. And, adding the sprinkles to the sundae, it was 100 clams off at Amazon this week. My only concern is that the model name of the stroller is the “City Elite.” Will this foster the impression that she is a tiny elitist? Probably no more than her New York Times onesie and the Edith Piaf she’ll be pumping out of the speakers…

BumpWatch!: Week 33

June 23, 2009


The day after tomorrow marks 34 weeks. While I would of course prefer that my little pot roast keeps cooking for several weeks, I’ve become increasingly convinced that she will follow in the footsteps of her Texas cousins and arrive 3 to 4 1/2 weeks early, or at the very least, her New Jersey cousins and arrive about 10 days early. I’ve become increasingly convinced of this because for the past 24+ hours she’s appeared intent on getting out through my bellybutton or through my back using my right kidney as a launch pad.

Adjust your bets accordingly.

“It is not flesh and blood but the heart that makes us fathers.”

June 21, 2009

We were walking home from work in the early summer heat and noticed the older blind man seeming disoriented near the bottom of 18th Street, searching for the curb edge with his walking stick but finding only a light pole. “Excuse me,” was all he got out before my husband asked if he needed some help. “I’m trying to get up by the McDonald’s,” he said, smiling but clearly a little embarrassed. “We can get you there,” my husband said, offering his arm which the man eagerly took.

Slowly we made our way up 18th, the man apologizing for inconveniencing us, explaining that he was diabetic as he ducked his chin toward the medical bag slung across his chest. Even though he was born and raised in D.C. he hadn’t been in Adams Morgan in a while and was a little lost, he said. My husband assured him it was no inconvenience and gently navigated him around the early evening foot traffic in front of the restaurants and bars, asking him more about growing up in the city.

When we got near the McDonald’s the man said he was trying to get to one of the banks across Columbia Road and my husband offered to walk him right there. He helped him across the busy intersection and took him to the front door of the bank, opening it, shaking his hand, asking if he would be OK from there.

The whole time I’d walked a little ahead and to the side, to avoid getting in the way of the man’s walking stick and my husband’s path. I listened as he put the man at ease with his natural, reporter’s way of chatting with total strangers, all while helping him make the long trip uphill to the bank. I don’t remember what the man said on the walk, the names of the now-closed restaurants and music joints he’d mentioned, or what high school he’d said he attended. The whole time I was thinking that I was terribly lucky that the man guiding him was going to be my child’s father.

Happy Fathers Day,


You Can’t Put a Price on Adorability. Oh, My Bad, Apparently You Can.

June 17, 2009


My husband is unfailingly logical in most cases, baby clothes pricing being no exception. As I held up a few new purchases yesterday he said, “Cute. Did they cost a dollar?” Because he looks at something the size of a cocktail napkin that will be worn once before getting covered in reconstituted moojuice and then outgrown within 15 minutes and thinks its price tag should match that of a candy bar (a regular old KitKat, not even one of those fancy organic 74% cacao ones.) When I explained that no, they were not a dollar, and gave him the prices — courtesy of Old Navy’s nimble-fingered slave laborers they ranged from only $8.99 to $12.50 — he was horrified. So I settled for my own sense of logic, by countering that he pays $50 for a tie and that’s no bigger than a baby dress and he exclaimed, “I can wear that tie for years!”

Damnable logic.

On the Origin of the Specious Baby Gift

June 16, 2009

DarwinBeaglePackages with wee little gifts inside have been arriving in our vestibule with frequency lately bearing blankets and books and bears (stuffed) and bathtubs and Boppies. But the arrival last week of one such gift box from confounded us. Inside lay Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle — a baby gift from our friend the Cuban Reporter, according to the packing slip inside. This was certainly a non-traditional route for a baby gift, I thought. (This was actually not my first thought. My first thought was, “If this is his creative way of telling us he got our baby a beagle I’m going to kill him.”) Quickly realizing that he’s known me long enough to know that I would come at him like a spider monkey if he showed up at our house holding a beagle puppy with a bow around its neck, I chalked it up to him acknowledging that we are sort of poncy when it comes to our taste in reading material and figured this was really no stranger than us reading her Norman Mailer.

So I emailed him to let him know his gift had arrived (no, Mother, this will not replace the handwritten thank you card) and the following exchange ensued.

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 6:34 PM, <Bird> wrote:
Got your present, thanks! Is that one of your favorites? You know I’ve never read it, sad to say. Now I can read it to her…

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 8:07 PM, <Cuban Reporter> wrote:
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. I didn’t get your kid a book!

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 9:55 PM, <Bird> wrote:
Okey doke, well that’s sort of a relief then. Because we got a paperback copy of Charles Darwin’s “Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle” from you today. And I thought that was sort of funny. You might want to call Amazon.

On Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 1:06 PM, <Cuban Reporter> wrote:
I can’t stop laughing at the image of you opening the box, seeing a crazy Darwin book and thinking “Uhhhhh………….”   Yet somehow, given your amazing capabilities of forced formalities, you managed to thank me in a way that made it sound like you weren’t thinking “What the…” the whole time. Very impressive. Very very impressive.

As it turns out, he had ordered the book for himself at the same time he’d ordered our present and somehow wires crossed and the book came to us as well. Last night we opened a large, newly arrived Amazon box and found inside the entire set of homemade baby food freezer storage containers we’d registered for, courtesy of the Reporter. So all’s well that ends well. Although after tasting my homemade pureed peas, the baby will likely prefer to be curling up in her crib with a copy of Darwin’s book. Or an actual beagle.

We’d Better Shape Uppp…Ooh Ooh Ooh!

June 15, 2009
IMG_1332Us nervous before childbirth and parenting class. So much to learn about babies!
IMG_1337Us after class. WTH? We didn’t learn anything about babies.

The scene: Saturday’s childbirth and baby care class at one of our nation’s august university medical hospitals.
The commitment:
It was going to be a long day–9 a.m. to 5 p.m.–but we knew it would be worth it.
The equipment:
one blanket, two pillows, notebook, pens, snacks, a bag lunch, two bottles of water (me), six-pack of Diet Coke (him)
The outlook: Given our lack of expertise in the areas of ushering babies into the world and their care and feeding afterward, I said solemnly to my husband as we headed out the door, “It’s probably the most important class we’ll ever take in our lives.” This would even mean it usurped typing, which prior to this time I considered the most important class I’d ever taken in my life.

9:02 a.m. – After riding on the filthiest parking lot elevator in Washington, D.C., and snaking through an empty labyrinth of hospital building corridors we arrive at our destination. Even though we’re only two minutes late, the instructor waves us in without smiling so she can continue a shpiel that appears to be a good five minutes under way. We weren’t even the last couple to arrive. Here’s a tip: when half of your class roster has to lean against a wall or use the loo every five minutes, build in a grace period before you rip into lecture.
9:03 – In a special form of torture for the preggies, they hold this class in an empty floor’s lounge where they’ve apparently turn the air off because there aren’t any patients around.
9:04 – The instructor is saying something. Hope it’s not important because she’s barely rising above a whisper. The entire time her face never breaks from its dour expression and her commitment to monotone delivery is awe-inspiring. I feel I’ve made some headway when I make out a New England accent.
9:10 – We’re only 10 minutes in and our instructor, railing (quietly and without r’s) against newspapers using sensationalistic terminology in articles about childbirth says, “Newspapers have really gone downhill in the past few years.” Suuuuper. My husband cracks open the first Diet Coke of the morning.
9:20 – In a classic case of “be careful what you wish for,” I’m now wishing we had one of those hippie dippy crystal-purifying instructors that I’d initially feared we’d get. Instead I’ve got Whispering Katharine Hepburn the Newspaper Detrahctah.
9:23 – I realize that this class will in no way cover baby care — diapering, feeding, bathing, etc. — when she plugs a separate course covering those topics. Apparently I misread this one’s description. Suuuuuuper.
9:45 – Forty-five minutes in and the instructor finally looks at her class syllabus, mentions a broad topic — timing contractions — and then offers no actual information saying, “We’ll go over that later.” This will continue for the next hour.
9:50 – Needing a distraction and a snack, I dive into my baggie of apple slices. Incidentally, if you ever want to see evidence of the sham public lives pregnant women lead, watch the snacks that get pulled out at a communal meeting of their kind: apple slices, unsalted almonds, carrot sticks. Muhuh. Like we all weren’t eating spoonfuls of Duncan Hines frosting dredged through Cap’n Crunch the night before.
10:00 – The instructor divides the men and women and has each group list three positives and negatives about pregnancy. The women struggle to condense the negatives to fewer than five items in the 10 minutes allotted. My husband later reports that the men cranked out their lists in 90 seconds and talked about football the rest of the time. One guy was lamenting that his wife’s due date was initially projected to be August but then they determined it wouldn’t be until early September. The others apparently counseled him that this was nothing to worry about, provided she had the good sense not to deliver on a Saturday.
10:10 to 10:50 – The instructor provides excruciating detail about what will happen at the hospital. But not about the kind of events for which excruciatingly detailed description might actually be helpful, such as the particulars of the eviction of the baby from its uterine condo. No, she details how many questions the admitting desk worker will ask, explains how the identification bracelet will go on our wrists, demonstrates how the nurses will use hand sanitizer as they enter the room, and so forth. (I. Kid. You. Not.)
10:55 – I write the first of two notes to my husband on my otherwise-unmarred notebook sheet: “But what will the chief resident have had for lunch that day?”
11:10 – I write my second note to my husband, “If we don’t start getting some actual useful childbirth info pronto I’m all for bailing at the lunch break.” He looks at me lovingly, seemingly convinced that he made the right decision on our wedding day. He pops open his second Diet Coke to toast his good fortune.
11:15 – The only other notes that have made it onto the paper are: “Call doctor when contractions start.” “Bring iPod and speaker dock to hospital.” “Ask neighbor to look after Dakota when we go to the hospital.”
11:40 – The instructor puts in a DVD about childbirth. Finally, we’re getting somewhere! We watch a short segment about the three stages of labor: Moderately Painful, Really Painful, and Sweet Fancy Moses Get This Thing Out Now Painful. Then we watch an actual childbirth video. Twenty minutes before lunch. Much wincing and “oh God”ing ensues.
11:55 – Time to get out the pillows and blankets and hit the floor for breathing exercises. In five minutes, the instructor offers a series of relaxation techniques that might calm me down were I in a moderately long line at the DMV but would be unlikely to help while going through what I just witnessed on the DVD. I resolve to get a pre-natal yoga DVD.
Noon. Sweet, Blessed Lunch-Breaky Noon – “Get the pillows and I’ll grab the bag and let’s get out of here,” I whisper with urgency to my husband as if we’re planning a bank heist. He obliges and we bolt for the door.
1:30 – In the fern-dotted, air-conditioned Georgetown Park, we buy Mrs. Field’s cookies and sodas. We are happy, we are free. It is then that we realize we’ve cut class to go to the mall, buy junk food, and hang out with our significant other. High school rules! Take that, authority!



No, wait…


Belly Jams Vol. I

June 11, 2009

Imagine being stuck in a room for nine months with nothing to do but twiddle your tiny thumbs. In an effort to alleviate the baby’s boredom, I’ve been playing her some tunes through the iPod (fancy shmancy noise-canceling headphones fit the belly perfectly) and singing her others. Call it Baby’s First Playlist. Her tastes are eclectic, to be sure.

“1, 2, 3, 4,” Feist
She prefers the Sesame Street version, natch.

My Baby Just Cares for Me, Nina Simone
Don’t worry, the baby’s not being elitist. (Yet.) It’s not you. My husband and I are the only two people she knows thus far so of course she just cares for us.

Beyond the Sea, Bobby Darin
As a summer baby, she’s naturally gravitated toward one of the greatest summer tunes of all time. However, I have no idea how she managed to requisition a tiny pool float and sunglasses in there.

Starálfur, Sigur Rós
I play this for her in the hopes that she will come to have an appreciation of incredible music, as well as possess the Zen calm that Sigur Rós music inspires. Also, this is the band that I’d want providing the soundtrack were I forced to float around in utero all over again for nine months.

Tamacun, Rodrigo y Gabriela
I can only infer that she’s a big fan of this one and managed to score a bootleg of a previous session of me playing it to her, because at least twice a day it feels like she’s in there practicing flamenco dancing to it.

We’re Going to Be Friends, The White Stripes
A delightful tune for baby and all her buddies waiting outside the belly.

Godspeed, The Dixie Chicks
This is one of the ones I sing to her. Because it makes me very, very happy. (song ends at 4:40)

Determining Sex in the City

June 10, 2009

art.intelligendercarrie_bradshaw_computer_cCNN informed the world yesterday that through the miracle of modern quackery science, one can now learn baby gender at 10 weeks without stepping so much as a toe into a sonographer’s office! My husband and I already know the gender of our baby (last-second, nursery-decor-obliterating surprises aside) but this product’s claims practically cry out for a test to see if they know what they’re talking about over at the IntelliGender labs. Here’s the rub, though: it costs $34.95 at the local drugstore.

So I had to ask myself…is amusing my readers worth a $35 experiment…? Are we all taking tinkle tests these days or really just getting taken to the cleaners?…

Waiter, There’s a Man in My Baby Shower

June 9, 2009

UsBabyShower Yes, he is in fact using the belly for cake-cutting leverage.
Understandable though. It’s his first baby shower.

While I in no way eschew everything traditional (there are rules, people!) I did request shucking of the girls-only convention for my baby shower this past weekend. Also I wanted flip flops. And picnic food. And bocce. But there would be pink decor, by God!

My rationale was simple: considering that just last summer I gathered my lady bffs for a lovely and traditional tea at The Willard-sipping/Lily Pulitzer dress-wearing/double X chromosome-having bridal shower I thought there might be a bit of fatigue around getting gussied up and having to so soon again extend pinkies in honor of yours truly. So when my sister, who was the hostess with the mostess at the event last summer, offered to throw a shindig in honor of the little one’s arrival, I readily agreed. And then I informed my husband that he’d be coming, too. Although totally different from the bridal shower, it was just as perfect. There were flip flops, picnic fair (albeit very fancy picnic fair thanks to my Food + Wine devotee sister and parents), bocce and dudes.

HomerUSATodayThis latter development caused some head scratching in corners around the D.C. metropolitan area. When the invite was mentioned beforehand at America’s Newspaper it apparently diverted some precious 15 minutes of discussion away from the next day’s Snapshot graphic. On the day of, one husband was rescued by cell phone from the clutches of an afternoon of manual labor back at his house when it was confirmed upon arrival that he could come and that there were in fact other dudes and beer there.

It must be said that the men were the consummate baby shower guests. They discretely shuffled off to the bocce court when packages of wee little knit booties started getting opened but made the requisite “aww” facial expressions when they needed to duck back in for a cake or beer refill. They politely refrained from jamming their fingers in their ears and yelling “AHLALA!” when any mention of childbirth or baby-containing ladyparts arose. And to their credit, the ladies in attendance did not complain once about getting man cooties (technical term = mooties) on them at a baby shower.  All told, a lovely co-ed affair ensued.